“What’s on your mind, Cord?” Kyle asked pointedly after the car pulled away.
“Where to put the tent, here by the trees or closer to the picnic tables?” Cordelia sidestepped the conversation she suspected was coming. Kyle was by far the most perceptive of her friends.
“Don’t do that.” Kyle flattened out the tent halfway between the trees and the picnic table, “I know Danni is your best friend, but she’s not the only one you can talk to.”
“Nothing to talk about.” She pushed a tent pole through the sleeve on her side of the tent.
“You like Anson, ‘eh?” Kyle didn’t look at Cordelia as she guided the end of the tent pole through to her side.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Cordelia tried to deflect the idea, but the catch in her throat gave her away.
“You don’t have to be ashamed.” The girls pushed the tent into its upright position and Cordelia grabbed the bag of pegs. Handing the hammer to Kyle, she held the one in place.
“I’m not ashamed. But it’s better not to have expectations that might hurt you, or your friends.” Cordi replied quietly. “I’m just being realistic.”
“For someone who’s so smart, sometimes you need a good slap.” They moved to the next peg. Cordelia glanced up with a quizzical look. “You sabotage your feelings for Danni way too often. You’re just as deserving as she is. Even if you don’t think so.”
“It’s not that.” Next peg, “I just don’t want to hurt Danni. She likes him so much, Kyle. And Rayne was right, if he’s interested in any of us, it’s certainly not me.” Kyle opened her mouth to speak, but Cordelia stopped her, “And it’s not because I’m not good enough. It’s because they spent so much time talking. She’s the only one he knows anything about.”
“We know basically nothing about Anson, so how can we know what he likes in a girl?” Kyle insisted. They pounded in the last peg and moved to the tent in the site beside them. “And if I’m not mistaken, you two exchanged a few syllables over pizza. Danni’s not the only person he spoke to.”
“If he’s interested in someone like Robyn, how could he possibly be interested in someone like me? We’re polar opposites.”
“Of course he’s interested in Robyn; he’s a teenage boy. Hell, I’m interested in Robyn.” Cordelia cocked a skeptical eyebrow at Kyle. “Okay, not really. I hate her, but I understand that people might think she’s sexy.”
“She’s a bit trashy for my tastes.” Cordelia chuckled “I like my hotties STD free, thank you very much.”
Kyle choked on her water. “I know you can’t talk to Danni about how you feel, so I’m here whenever you need.”
“Please don’t say anything to Bianca.”
“What you tell your sister is up to you. But if she hasn’t figured it out already, I’d be surprised.” Kyle hooked the hammer on her belt and skipped over to Cordelia. She pulled her into a hug before the other girl could resist. “Just let us love you, okay?” Kyle turned and began moving bags into the tents. “Do you remember that camping trip when Bianca was sure she was going to get eaten by a bear?”
“She wishes I would forget.” Cordelia laughed. She was telling Kyle a story about a family camping trip where her sister refused to come out of the car for an entire day when the other girls returned.
“You guys are master tenters.” Danni admired their work as she stepped out of the car, “We’d still be trying to get these things out of the bags.”
“Why do you think I sent you?” Kyle grinned. “Like I would have left you three in charge of assembling tents. I have no desire to sleep under the stars tonight. Besides, Bianca could never put up a tent with those nails.” She chuckled as her friend swatted her with a perfectly manicured hand.
“It is not my fault I like to look good!”
“There’s a fine line between good and narcissistic!” Cordelia smirked.
“Ooooo, I’ll get you for that!” Laughing, Bianca jumped onto her sister’s back as the other girls began pulling firewood out of the lined trunk, watching the twins grapple playfully with each other.
“Anyone want to go swimming before supper?”
“Sure. I gotta pee. I’ll change in there.” Cordelia pulled her suit and a towel from her bag.
“Yes. Peeing is a thing that needs to happen.” Draining the bottom of her bottle of water, Rayne followed. Soon they were all trooping towards the bathroom together.
“Thank god this place has plumbing. I could not survive for three days without a shower.” Bianca sighed as they stepped through the timber door to the bathroom.
“And there is nothing worse that the smell of an outhouse.” Rayne feigned gagging.
“Sometimes I wonder why I camp with you princesses.” Kyle called from behind her stall door.
“Cause you’re nature women, right?” Bianca called back, “You’d die without a monthly dose of hair dye.” Their chuckles were soon lost in the grunts of squirming into swim suits in the tiny bathroom stalls.
Once at the beach, Kyle and Rayne ran straight to the water, splashing in without hesitation, ignoring the late season chill. Bianca lathered herself in suntan oil, threw on some dark sunglasses and stretched her lean body out on her towel to tan. Cordelia handed a bottle of sunscreen to Danni. After rubbing lotion into the skin above Cordelia’s one piece, she slathered herself. Her pale skin was not a fan of the sun. Adjusting the bottom of her bikini, she headed for the water and left Cordelia on her towel with some thriller novel. Danni joined Kyle and Rayne by the floating dock, treading water as they sat on the edge of the wooden surface.
“Girl, I am always amazed at how long you can do that.” Rayne shook her head “I’m an athlete and I can’t do it.”
“Many, many years of swimming lessons.”
“I don’t see why you don’t try out for the swim team. You would definitely make it.”
“I’d never have time. Between work, school, the design competition in sewing class, and you guys, I have exactly no spare time. Anson’s the only thing I’m willing to work into my schedule.” Danni laughed.
“Any idea what you’re going to make me strut around in?” Kyle prodded. “I’m your model. I need to know what I need to tone.”
“No ideas yet. I have until the end of term, so I’m still planning. This may be the coolest school assignment ever.”
“You’ll do great. You’ve never let me down.” Rayne smiled, adjusting the bikini Danni had made for her the year before. The bright pink highlighted her athletic body.
Smiling, Danni jack-knifed her body and slipped beneath that surface, ending the conversation without having to admit her complete creative block. Coming back up for air, she saw Rayne swimming towards shore where Cordelia was waving a cell phone.
“Ah” Rayne’s mom was not good at loosening the reigns on her daughter. This would be just the first of what was sure to be several calls this weekend. Danni turned back to the dock. “Are you really okay with Zack coming tomorrow?”
Kyle shrugged “I’ve been avoiding him for months, but part of me knows I want us to get back together. Then there’s that other part, the part of me that wants to throttle him.”
“Yeah, that’s the biggest thing. I know that you keep telling me it’s nothing, but for me it is. It’s something.” Her tone was flat. Kyle always covered her pain with nonchalance.
“Kyle, it’s okay that you have, you know, emotions.” Danni punched her in the shoulder. “Is he worth giving up because of a girl you don’t even like?”
“I just don’t know what he’s thinking.” Kyle tapped her fingers against the dock. “He went from wanting to be super serious with me to having the sexcapades with Robyn. What the hell is that about?”
“Zack’s the only person that knows that answer.” Danni hoisted herself out of the water and onto the dock. “This is shaping up to be a weekend of conversations and relationships. By Monday, we’ll both have boyfriends again.”
Kyle took a deep, composing breath, before slipping into the water. “I think I need something from the ice cream family. You?”
“Nope, some of us have to work for our figures.” Danni chuckled.
“Your loss” With a grin Kyle swam off, her yellow suit shimmering beneath the surface. Stretching out on the wooden surface, Danni closed her eyes, revelling in the heat of an Indian summer.
***** ***** *****
Bianca rolled over on her towel and watched her twin. “Good book?”
“It’s intense.” Cordelia flipped a page without glancing at her sister.
“You have that I can’t stop reading expression.” Bianca smiled.
“And you have your I need to talk tone.” Cordelia tucked the book under the edge of her towel. “It feels like we no together time anymore.”
“I know. Between Greg, my dance, and your cello, we’re never home at the same time.” She shimmied closer to her sister, resting her head on Cordelia’s knee. “Anything new you want to tell me?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Cordelia reached for her book.
Bianca gently took her hand. “Cordi, you can’t bullshit me. You know that. I know you’re interested in Anson.”
“Damn it. Is there a billboard posted somewhere that I’m unaware of?” Cordelia threw up her hands in frustration.
“That’s two of you that have figured it out. I’m usually so good at hiding stuff.”
“Who else?” Bianca ran her fingers against Cordelia’s hand in a familiar gesture of comfort. “Not Danni?”
“God no. Danni’s who I’m keeping it from. Kyle figured it out.” Cordelia leaned into the touch.
“I wondered about that when she sent us away. What are you going to do?”
“Nothing. There’s nothing I want to do about it. Danni is crazy about him, and he likes her back, so what can I do. I’d never try to weasel my way between Danni and a boyfriend. She means too much to me.” She leaned forward until her forehead briefly touched her sister’s, feeling surprisingly upset. “I’ll put it aside and get over it. Just like I do with everything else. I’d never hurt Danni over something as stupid as a guy.”
“Sissy, you’ll never get anywhere if you keep putting Danni first.” Bianca looked over the rim of her sunglasses directly at her sister. “You let her walk over you. She doesn’t always know best.”
“I’ve had this conversation once today. I’m not having it again, B.” Cordelia stared at her sister. “Please don’t make me do this again.”
“Fine. We can drop it, but don’t just give up on this, okay? You’re gorgeous and funny and awesome and at some point, you’re going to have to let yourself be happy. But, I might be biased.”
“You might be.” Cordelia hugged her sister tight as Kyle and Rayne plopped down on the sand with a stack of ice cream sandwiches.
***** ***** *****
Weaving her arms around Anson’s neck, Danni felt him pull her close. Her chest pressed against his. His bare skin hot against her bikini-clad torso. Standing on the beach in the moonlight was the most romantic thing she’d ever done. Her breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t believe this was actually happening. His head came down to meet hers, his lips soft, pliable, tasting like marshmallows. She was exploring the taste when a wave of cold water slapped her across the face. Bolting into a sitting position, sputtering, she wiped her face.
“What the f….”
“Hey, hey, watch your language.” Kyle laughed from the side of the dock. “There are children present.”
“Why did you do that?”
“I’ve been trying to get your attention. You were too busy day dreaming. What were you thinking about?”
“Anson.” Sighing, Danni leaned back against the warm wood of the floating platform.
“You really like him don’t you?” Kyle asked. Her apprehension lost on Danni.
“Are you sure this isn’t just rebound feelings?”
“What do you mean?” Danni shaded her eyes against the sun glinting off the water.
“You know what I mean.” Kyle cocked an eyebrow in a look Danni knew all too well.
“What? You mean Jon?” Danni asked. “We broke up like a month ago. That’s plenty of time.”
“Yes, but you dated for a year. It takes longer to get over than that.”
“It should, but Anson has totally eclipsed any feelings I ever had for Jon. Besides, Jon never fit with you guys. Anson would instantly mesh.”
“So, what will you do if he’s interested in someone else? If Zack was wrong about ‘reading his cousin’?”
“Since no one else is interested in him, I’ll just have to make him like me.” Laughing, she slipped into the water beside Kyle. “Let’s go make some supper. I’m famished.”
Opening the cooler, Cordelia pulled out an assortment of vegetables and handed them to Bianca as Danni pulled out the cutting boards and knives. Rayne placed the grill in the flames and began browning the meat for spaghetti sauce while Kyle set up speakers. The music settled around them as they fell into a synchronized rhythm. They worked in comfortable silence until the food was simmering.
“I am so glad we did this” Rayne sighed, leaning back in a lawn chair, “It’s so relaxing.”
“Cordi, are you just going to hide behind your book all night?” Danni tossed a Smartie at her friend.
“I have like twenty pages left.” Cordelia replied from behind the cover, stirring the pot of sauce, “Give me a second”
“Do what makes you happy, friend.” Kyle answered slyly.
Cordelia’s gaze darted over the top of the cover, shooting an eye roll in her direction. Letting out a breath, she returned to the pages in front of her. Staring at words she’d already read, hiding from the situation with Danni. They’d never been interested in the same guy before. In fact, she had never really been that interested in anyone.
But Anson was different. This was completely uncharted territory. Her stomach did a weird fluttering thing when she saw him. Just thinking about him made her cheeks warm. She pictured herself with Anson, and then Danni with Anson. The choice was so obvious. She didn’t know why she was even thinking about it. Anson was an athlete. Danni was athletic. Her dark hair and light complexion would look amazing with his dark curls and coffee skin. Cordelia knew she didn’t stand a chance. Tears prickled behind her eyes. She blinked quickly, and picked up the pot of noodles.
“These are done. I’m just going to drain them over at the water tap.”
“Hang on, I’ll help you.” Danni hopped up from her chair, catching up with her friend halfway to the washroom “Geeze, what’s the rush dude?”
“You know how I hate overdone noodles.” Cordelia smiled, averting her gaze. “You’re really excited about Anson, aren’t you?”
“Oh Cordi! I am!” She held the strainer over the drain, waiting for Cordelia to dump the noodles. “I hope he’s interested in me.”
“I can’t see why he wouldn’t be, you guys seem pretty similar. He’d be stupid not to like you. And you’d look great together.”
“We totally would wouldn’t we? God, ah! This is so awesome. I thought this would be a crappy year after my break-up with Jon, but things are really starting to look up. And we’re not even a month into the school year. If this is the start, can you imagine the rest?” Danni squealed, dancing around with the spaghetti noodles. “I wish they were coming tonight. I haven’t been this excited about a guy in so long.”
“Well, you’re just going to have to put up with just us girls for the night and see the boy tomorrow.” Cordelia giggled. Pretending to sound put out, she shelved her feelings like a good friend.
“Stop it!” Danni poured the noodles back in the pot. “Of course I want to hang out with you. Like I would ever let some guy come between us.” Laughing, they hurried back to the campground and everyone started piling their plates with food.